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Fatal Mistakes When Hiring a Lawyer for Your Small Business

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Jonathan Cooper
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Last night, I came across this "How To" article that made 3 suggestions as to how to save money when hiring a lawyer for a personal injury case. While I do not fault anyone for trying to save a few dollars, particularly in this economic climate, I think the author is terribly misguided. Simply put, if a lawyer would actually agree to abide by any of the suggestions in that article, then you can be sure that is not the lawyer you want for your case, particularly if your case has to do with your small business or commercial litigation needs in New York.

Leaving aside the issue that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis rather than an hourly rate (which renders moot most of the article), the other suggestions suffer from serious flaws as well. Perhaps the best example is his notion that you can offer to file the necessary papers in Court in exchange for a reduction in fee. I cannot imagine any attorney agreeing to these terms for the very basic reason that if you (presumably a non-lawyer) make any mistake in filing the papers with the Court, the attorney has opened himself up to a legal malpractice claim.

Moreover, even assuming that the attorney were to ignore the malpractice possibility (which he clearly shouldn't), the author's thought that it would be worthwhile for the attorney to significantly reduce his fee for clerical tasks that would ordinarily cost under $100 is, for lack of a better term, absurd. (The following analogy comes to mind: you ask your doctor to reduce his fee in exchange for you beginning the medical procedure for him.

In addition, this suggestion also ignores the fact that some clerical tasks cannot be handled by the client as a matter of law, such as service of legal papers on the other parties to the litigation.

Instead, if you are interested in getting the best value for your money when hiring a lawyer, you should consider the suggestions listed here.

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Jonathan Cooper
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